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Unannounced OSHA Inspection, always stressful

Discussion in 'Safety Issues' started by old-iron-habit, May 21, 2014.

  1. old-iron-habit

    old-iron-habit Senior Member

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    Retired Cons't. Supt./Hospitals
    Location:
    Moose Lake, MN
    Had the OSHA inspector show up the other day for a project inspection. On these bigger projects we expect them at least once a year. We strive to make our projects as absolutely safe as we can but when OSHA shows up it is the most stressful day of the year for me.

    Project: New Hospital, Status, shell is complete, brick being installed, inside 80% framed out, rough in and build out ongoing. Average 70 workers on site daily.

    It went like this

    8:30 AM OSHA inspector walked into my field office at 8:30 AM, identified himself and said he was going to audit the job. I asked for a pre inspection conference which he agreed he wanted also.

    9:00: Had all subcontractors supervision gathered at the office trailer. The inspector gathered all names, companies, and received copies of each companies safety manuals. He then explained that we would tour as a group and he would interview workers from each company present. He asked for privacy to speak to them.

    9:30: Left the office and toured the project. Looked at the 2 story brick scaffold and interviewed two workers. All was good. Looked at the 2nd floor debri chute and he had some questions and was OK with it. Our 2nd floor material landing zone has Garlock rails around it with a harness hanging on a retractable that is to be put on before the outer rail is swung open to land palletized stuff. He liked that and took pictures to share. After interviewing some electricians and fire alarm installers we walked into a break room. There was two microwaves plugged into a single power cord. He said that it was a fire danger as an extension cord was not to be used on a microwave. I mentioned that it was a heavy duty cord and that the entire temporary power system was ground fault protected. He asked the electrical supervisor what he thought. The reply was in a very calm, matter of fact voice. We are on a 20 amp breaker, the cord is rated for 30 amps, the microwave cords are rated for each machine with a UL listing on them. I don't see any danger. The worst thing would be a nuisance trip but absolutely no chance for fire or shock. The inspector said "I can't argue with that, let's move on. After a few more interviews we came across two cordless chargers, both with the outer insulation broke where the cord goes into the charger. The inner wired were intact. The framing contractor denied knowing who they belonged to. We all knew they belonged to his company but said nothing. The next people interviewed were the framers working in the area. The inspector came back to the group and stated that he asked the framers where their chargers were kept and they had pointed out the two in question. He stated that the contractor would get a non serious citation. We continued on and came upon a stairwell where the hand rail had been modified in order to trowel the concrete steps. Although the hand rail was up, there was a 7 by 10 inch hole along the edge where the stair jogged in which a foot could step. He asked me what I thought of that. I replied that it was not right, that they had placed the concrete the day before, and I then instructed one of my carpenters to fix it right away. We finished our tour and went back to the office for the post conference.
    11:45 post conference. Generally he was satisfied. He stated that the framing contractor was getting a non serious citation for the charger cord. He stated that he had to go research the 7 x10 inch hole at the stairs and would advise if there would be a citation issued.
    12:00 Noon: He left the site.
    4:55 PM, I got a call from corporate safety that the OSHA inspector had called him and reviewed the inspection. He advised that the cord would be the only citation. He said that although the hole was a citable issue, he was not going to cite us because we took ownership and admitted it was incorrect, and we had corrected it immediately while he was still on site. If the framers had acknowledged the cord, I believe he would have been satisfied by them removing it from service.
    In retrospect I guess that it's a good thing they are looking at minor issues. It means we are doing the right thing in making the jobs safer for the workers. It's still the most stressful part of the job!
    My apologies for being long winded but wanted to put this out for others who will be there at some time or another.
     
  2. Scrub Puller

    Scrub Puller Senior Member

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    Yair . . . old-iron-habit. From an outsider looking in I would say that is a valuable contribution and further confirmation of the value of this board.

    You writing is clear and concise and the fact you have taken the time to compose and edit the piece is probably an extension of an ordered mind that can organize and run a job to the rules.

    Cheers.
     
  3. mowingman

    mowingman Senior Member

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    I would say you did great. All my experience is in mining, with MSHA, but I have heard all the horror stories about OSHA. Congratulations on a good inspection.
     
  4. CM1995

    CM1995 Super Moderator

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    It sounds like you had a good inspector - one that is out to do their job but not there to pour through the code book to find a minute violation in order to write a citation, regardless of all the other effort you put forward to make a safe work site.

    Good job!:thumbsup
     
  5. old-iron-habit

    old-iron-habit Senior Member

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    For a young inspector he was very fair. So many inspectors try to rule by the letter of the book instead of the intent of the rule. For every rule written there is hundreds pages of discussion documented and then a written summery of the intent. Most of it can be found on the net if you look by article, sub article, and point whatever, but you have to pick through a lot of boring reading to get to the meat.

    Thanks for the compliment Scrub Puller. I have been in this racket since June of 1970, still a pile driver at heart, but have spent the last 29 plus years building hospitals with the exception of two oddball projects in between. This is my last one and then pulling the pin.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2014
  6. oceanobob

    oceanobob Senior Member

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    Old Iron Habit: Thank you for the typing effort and the time effort with the details you placed on the narrative.
     
  7. kshansen

    kshansen Senior Member

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    I'll second that, also sounds like a fair inspector.

    I know lots of people think OSHA and MSHA inspectors are just out to cause grief, and I think some are, but that said I have to thijnk back to last week and the 300 miners who died over in Turkey how many of them would be going home to their wives and kids tonight if they had someone "harassing" their bosses?:(
     
  8. wilko

    wilko Senior Member

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    With one of the crusher outfits around here the boss tells the crew to shut down operations during the inspection on the theory that the crew is more likely to have an accident with an inspector looking over their shoulder.
    Another outfit the crew shoves the boss in his pickup and tells him to go away so they don't have to worry about him punching out the inspector again.
     
  9. pafarmer

    pafarmer Senior Member

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    Great write up old Iron. OSHA inspections are always very stressful for me. After years of these inspections I have come to release after many years in this business that their inspections help us be safe on the job and out of harms way. More good than harm is the result of these audits. Some crews I have seen recently could use a little help on practicing safe techniques. Also sounds like your inspector was a decent guy, that helps allot.....well done on the audit and best of luck after you pull pin. I'm about there myself...
     
  10. jstavene

    jstavene New Member

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    This was a great writeup! nicely explained and detailed! (I am in fear of our next osha visit (I survived a epa visit).
     
  11. CM1995

    CM1995 Super Moderator

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    Welcome to the Forums Jstavene!:drinkup

    You did well, the last EPA visit I was involved in cost $45K.:cool: